Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Did He really say that?

Ephesians 2:10: 
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
This is one of the most valuable verses in the Bible for you, if you ever wondered, "Do I really have a purpose? Is my life just a series of chance events?"
It may seem so at times, but it's not.  Your life is in God's hands, and in God's plans.  You do have a choice, of course, whether to fit into His plans, but why decide not to follow His direction? 
The interesting thing is that God is not as restrictive as you may think.  He has all sorts of good intended for you, forever.  The things you really want to do in your life are normally His plan for you.  If you love banking, be a banker.  If you love art, be an artist.  God releases His great power within us to help us accomplish much more than we could alone as we fulfill our dreams and live our life for Him at the same time. He does this because, of all the beings in the universe, He has our best interests in mind.  The difference between Him and others (like, for example, your mother), is that He knows everything.  So while Mom may say, "Art will never pay you a living wage," God knows that you are the next Monet. And she may be right. You may be "discovered" after you live a life of difficulty and financial suffering (and lots of "second jobs").  But.  If God's plan is for you to pursue something, go for it.  
You really don't have to ask His permission, either.  He usually informs us of His will by the things that WE like, as the writer says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart." If you love and enjoy God, and go for what you really want, you're doing the things "He planned for you long ago..."
Knowing and loving God brings wonderful freedom, not restriction.
Jesus said, "I have come that [you] might have life, and that you might have it abundantly."
All these messages contain within them the idea that what you like, if you indeed love Him, is what He wants, too.
Surprising? Yes.  Especially when you thought that only pastors and preachers could really fit into God's plans.  But if you read the Bible, you find farmers, nomads, government bureaucrats, businessmen, mothers, sons, dads, day laborers, executives, kings, peasants, priests, pastors, doctors, writers, and every other profession or trade that existed in those days.  It's the same today.  God loves you.  And if you love Him, you can enjoy life completely.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

But what about you?

Jesus said to Peter, "What does John have to do with you? YOU follow ME!"
This is really what Jesus has to say to any and all of us.  We emulate other people, in the sense that we look at their general lifestyle, and when they are like Jesus, it's as if we see Him in them, and then we emulate the "right parts" of their lives.
However, when that emulation moves into, "I want to BE that person," it moves us away from our true goal--we want to follow Jesus, not them.  So we follow Jesus, not Paul, not Peter, not Matthew, not Billy Graham, not...(whoever).
Another issue all of us face is the desire we all have for success.  We see someone successful, and then we say, "I want to be like them." And eventually, "I want to BE them..."
The best decision Christians ever make is to emulate the good qualities in their leaders, but to actually follow only Jesus Christ. This is not as easy as it may sound, because the first thing to do is to immerse yourself in the 4 Gospels.  It's there that we see Jesus--who He is, what He's like, and how He acts.  The next step is to "principle-ize" Jesus' life and behavior, and learn to be "Like Him, in your own skin."  You can never BE Him, but you can, in your own way, emulate the principles that motivated His life, and discard the things He rejected.  When you do that, you are doing what every Christian should do--learning to follow Jesus Christ for yourself.  Note that I said, "Like Him, in your own skin."  You have to find your own way in this.  God has a specific design for your life that includes the things I've described, but it still needs to be YOUR life--YOUR skin.  Jesus is looking for men and women who will be this--Like Him, in their own skin.  And that's what He was telling Peter.
Read about Jesus.
Learn about Him.
Study Him.
Practice being like Him.
Follow Him.
Be like Him, but be YOU.